Brainwashing in the Medical Training | Two Letters to Alice Miller

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From alice-miller.com: “I am writing this e-mail to Alice Miller, having just finished reading the book For Your Own Good. I was moved deeply and found familiar most of the topics addressed in this book. I myself was raised by an emotionally abusive and narcissistic mother (my father was a complete enabler totally subservient to my mother), and I could discuss at length my struggles to heal from the damage.

What I would like to discuss instead is the state of Medicine as it is practiced in the U.S. I am a doctor of internal medicine, and I have observed a lot of the same psychopathology described concerning ‘pedagogy’ pervading the medical profession. There is a lot of the same ‘group-think,’ authoritarianism, use of humiliation and rank, to — not only ‘whip into shape’ new doctors — but also negate, wipe out, or pathologize true COMPASSION in the treatment of the patient. And it is truly amazing the amount of rationalization and denial that occurs with this. Just as children are often ‘blamed’ for anything that happens to them, patients are often ‘blamed,’ and thus denied adequate care, for their afflictions, even though these may overwhelmingly be the result of poverty, violence, ignorance, and malnutrition. Instead of recognizing the shortcomings of the American medical system, doctors have been inculcated to pathologize the patient for their ill health.

I have attempted (without success) to discuss this with other health care professionals, but it seems that everyone has been so completely ‘brainwashed’ that they see no inherent problems with their education nor with the system itself.

I would be interested if anyone had any experience or comments on this.

Respectfully, L. E. D., M.D.

AM: Thank you for your thoughtful letter. I completely agree with you and share your concerns . . . We are publishing your letter here in the hope that other physicians, who also feel the same discomfort like the one you describe, will share with us some suggestions. Maybe, some of them have an idea about how doctors can be encouraged to trust their feelings and take interest in the childhood history of their patients. In my opinion, this could certainly reduce the amount of prescriptions of unnecessary and sometimes harmful medication.”

Letter #1 →

A response: Brainwashing in the Medical Training #2

“I find this subject fascinating and have spent a fair amount of time pondering why compassion is sometimes so elusive amongst the healing professions. I am a pediatric cardiologist who finished my training in 1990, and I’ve worked as an attending physician since that time. When my daughter became ill, I experienced firsthand the difficulties patients and families face when experiencing serious illness. As challenging as my daughters illnesses were, the most challenging issue we faced were many who were dismissive of our observations, who were condescending, and many who just didn’t seem to really care.

I have used the lack of compassion I experienced to heighten the compassion I feel for my own patients, with incredibly rewarding results. I think I know why so many doctors are so limited in their ability to show their own humanity. In order to become a doctor, it is often helpful to deny one’s own humanity and feelings in order to get through the system . . . After so many years of ignoring your own suffering (probably preceded by similar training in childhood), it is nearly impossible for us doctors to recognize our own feelings and suffering. Therefore, when we take care of people in need, suffering physically and mentally, we are unable to do so. I find most health care professionals just get annoyed with anyone who is not an ‘easy’ or straightforward patient . . .

D. T.

AM: Thank you so much for your important letter and for taking part in this discussion. You write: ‘I have used the lack of compassion I experienced to heighten the compassion I feel for my own patients, with incredibly rewarding results.’ Have you already tried to ask your patients if they were beaten in childhood? I suggested it many times to many physicians but they were afraid to do so. Only one of them did it and was surprised that a long story of a chronic illness came to an end after the pains of the childhood had come to the surface. Unfortunately, so many doctors keep their own secrets hidden to themselves, thus they can hardly offer compassion to their patients; their whole artificial security may fall away. They don’t know that exactly this could give them and their patients the opportunity to live their own authentic lives, without the lies and without the secrets that must protect the parents.”

Letter #2 →

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8 COMMENTS

  1. AS I KEEP WRITING…

    BULLYING

    OCCURS

    IN

    EVERY OCCUPATION

    WHERE

    EXPLOSIVE

    RATIONAL BICKERING

    IS GIVEN

    MORE VALIDITY

    THAN

    THE HUMAN

    EMOTIONAL

    TEARDROP.

    IT ALWAYS HAS

    BEEN SO.

    IT ALWAYS WILL

    BE SO,

    WHILST

    LOGIC IS REGARDED

    AS IF IT IS

    HUMANITY’S DEITY.

    MOTHER’S AND FATHER’S

    ARE BLAMED BY

    SYSTEMIC BULLYING

    WITHIN A BULLYING SOCIETY

    FOR BEING

    ILLOGICALLY

    EMOTIONAL.

    THIS DOES NOT OCCUR

    IN RURAL AFRICAN TRIBES

    WHERE ALL AGES

    DO NOT

    HAVE TO BE

    OVERLY EMPHASIZING

    ALL THINGS

    LOGICAL.

    (ALICE MILLER is, in my humble opinion, a very LOGICAL person, making more ANALYTICAL LOGIC for an already OVERLY ANALYTICAL SOCIETY. BULLYING is NEVER HEALED by TREATING IT WITH MORE LOGIC but in RECOGNIZING that it comes from LOGIC’s ABSENCE of EMOTION. ONLY the NUMB LECTURING can build a LECTURE on WHY BEING CRUEL is RIGHTEOUS.

    LECTURING OCCURS IN EVERY PROFESSION.

    LOGIC IS A FINE GAME THAT IS NOT HARMFUL. BUT BULLYING OFTEN USES LOGIC TO SHUN ALL THINGS EMOTIONAL.

    EVEN YOUR DEAR OLD GRANDMA TENDERLY KNITTING A BABY SHAWL.

  2. Someone said (I think maybe it was Lacan) that we are prisoners of language. Language is prison because it is precisely the source of narcissism. One may ask why narcissism adapted evolutionary – because it contains the language gene or trait or whatever you call it.
    If you know anyone who may be very high on narcissism, you will see they talk a lot and their use of language is mind’cutlery’ No matter what you say, they will say opposite and when you say opposite anticipating their tactics, they will say that is not what they are saying. It is circular and you cannot get out unless you LEAVE. This is why only no contact works with them.
    Narcissism = language ability and has a degree of healthy to weird land. The reason it hurts when we encounter a high narc person is because they obfuscate language to put us in a double bind. The ultimate goal is power unconsciously.
    So the psychiatry training is narcissism with weapon of medications and having extra judicial powers. Most powerful medical doctor is not cardiologist or a surgeon but a psychiatrist because they can take away your freedom and reputation!

    At the end if you do not agree with them, then that means you are truly insane! And if you act as ‘sane’ as possible, then you are truly suffering narcissism. No way out after you encounter a psychiatrist.
    A psychiatrist says I am treating you things that are normal by using a language that is pure narcissism making.
    Here is the breakdown of most common human states that are maligned by mental health professionals. I am not saying these states of body and mind do not hurt. They hurt worse than a colon inflammation, but the shame, the blame, and the stigma is the bigger problem. You may say these are all my interpretation, but I would argue my interpretation is much closer to the real thing than being told you are worthless for having human experience. We all experience this consciously or unconsciously. Just part of living on earth as a flesh.
    Depression (attempt for update some integration – it is a wake dreaming. I call it offline). Anxiety (re-presentation/image imagination – a thought without a prior knowledge RE-presentation). Hallucination (body/senses imagination also without original source/pure creativity). Delusion (interpersonal/metaphor/language imagination). Mania (energy surplus – overflowing attention). Panic (cry for self-recognition/consciousness). Paranoia (risk calculation imagination). Psychosis (attempt for transcendence or integration or switch between prior identification and authenticity). Schizophrenia state is the ultimate human state without socialization/culture and the next frontier if we give a chance to hear them without value laden attention and judgement.

    We all have these states whether we are aware of them or not. Psychiatry makes normal human states into commodity. I think we are slowly but surely getting closer to change.

  3. After I was whacked out of my mind with antipsychotics, my three year old daughter gained a lot of weight. I now have no doubt this weight gain was the result of my young child having her loving mother stolen from her at a very young age.

    But at the time I did not realize this, since I’d been made ungodly sick. So I took my child to our PCP in the hopes she would refer us to a dietician. But instead of simply making an appropriate referral, our PCP said she would blame me and my cooking, except my other child was thin.

    No doubt, whatsoever, there is a “blame the patient,” or their legitimately concerned parent, problem with the medical community. When in reality the medical community noses themselves into people’s lives, force drugs people with mind altering neurotoxins, adamantly denies the common adverse effects of their drugs (anticholinergic toxidrome), and does their best to destroy the lives of their clients and their families.

    And when the medical malpractice I’d dealt with was much later pointed out … wah-la! … a subsequent doctor attempted to force me to hire him disingenuously – so he could attempt to steal absolutely everything from me – according to the appalling contract he harassed me unsuccessfully, but incessantly, to sign. So there is also a serious – to the point of downright criminal – “white wall of silence” problem within the medical community as well.

  4. I’ve often thought the reason so many medical doctors are the way they are (lacking compassion, patient-blaming) is because they’ve had to learn to adapt to (and some would say survive) the uniquely stressful, competitive, and potentially punitive (legally, that is) learning environment of medical school and medical practice. And while medical training is rigorous, and at times even brutal, some would argue this is necessary for weeding out substandard students, meaning when someone’s life is on the line, what’s most important is the patient’s life, and not some over-confident medical student’s swollen ego. Some say it’s the only way to survive the emotionally, academically, (and potentially professionally) cut-throat environment that is medical school. And medical students desensitization and subsequent internalization of seemingly hostile training tactics can result in them eventually (though unconsciously) taking out their long-buried frustrations on their patients. But what many doctors fail to realize is that what they’ve chosen to endure does not give them the right to treat patients with the same disrespect. In other words, they don’t realize that what they’ve chosen to subject themselves to is the opposite of what people have a right to except in their everyday lives, which is courtesy and decency. And though I agree with Alice Miller’s theory that such destructive interpersonal attitudes, dynamics, and behaviors often begin in childhood, it doesn’t excuse such behavior, especially from those trained to help others.

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